am i too old to learn a trade

One question we get asked a lot here at Access Training is - am I too old to learn a trade? The short answer is no! Our courses are available to people of all ages and abilities and can work around your pre-existing responsibilities. Whether you're finishing school and looking to become an electrician through a full-time course, or 40 and hoping to become a plumber through one of our part-time courses, we can accommodate you.

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Over the last year, millions of people across the country and the globe, have been forced to take their working lives into the home. Life under lockdown has meant that the home has taken the place of the office, with staff having to retreat to their living quarters. Leaving your work at the front door has long been impossible. It goes without saying that this has brought its various challenges, obstacles, and situations to adapt to. 

It might not be a stretch to suggest that our boilers have felt this added pressure more than any of us. At first glance, there might not seem to be an immediate connection between increased time spent at home and the conditions of our boilers. But the surprising truth is that hours and hours spent working from home have given our boilers quite a job to do. 

Hometree, a boiler, heating and home cover specialist, has reported a 12% year-on-year increase in boiler breakdowns over the winter of 2020. 

An important consequence of working from home has been that millions of homes have required heating for many more hours of the day. Throughout the winter lockdowns this is especially true, with some homes needing heating during the entire day while they work. 

Kemley Sellars, a spokesperson from Hometree, has noted: 

‘the additional usage [of boilers] whilst working from home has meant increased wear and tear.

It really highlights the importance of having your boiler serviced in the coming months, ensuring that it’s working for next winter where many may have transitioned post-Covid to working from home more often’.

 

What does this mean for gas engineers? Firstly, it’s that they were in particularly high demand over the winter period, after months of increased boiler usage led to these boilers breaking down. It shows us that, even during a lockdown, during a pandemic, boilers are ever more essential than they always have been. 

Secondly it shows us that gas engineers will continue to be in high demand this year, as the public are being made increasingly aware of the importance of having your boilers serviced annually. Hometree offered some important advice to their customers and readers, one piece of which was to ensure an annual service by a Gas Safe Registered engineer. This increased awareness of the importance of servicing your boiler will put many engineers in work over the coming months. 

It’s highly important to make sure that your boilers and radiators are in full working order at this time of year. During winter time, low temperatures can cause standing water in pipework to freeze. Not only this, but having your boiler breakdown at the time of year when you need it most is the last thing you need. 

Thirdly, this information shows us the increased likelihood of gas engineers being in even higher demand as the years go by. Thousands of people are likely to have found the convenience of working from home to their liking. The ease of this new model, which some studies are suggesting to be more productive and efficient than working from the office, might be difficult to leave for many. 

We could be witnessing the beginning of the end of the office as the dominant working environment, meaning that our boilers are going to have to put up with this increased usage on a long term basis. This is only a good thing for those looking to get into the industry; it will secure an already rising demand for skilled workers and qualified tradespeople. 

Boilers will always need servicing, replacing, maintaining; but now, as our need for them is increasing due to these unprecedented times, demand for qualified gas engineers is only going up.

It’s a career for the future. It’s a career for life. 

 

Learn your trade. Get qualified. Make it happen. 

 

 

Is it illegal to do your own plumbing?

 

With any major plumbing work, it is essential that it is carried out by a professional with experience, qualifications, and an understanding of regulations. All plumbing work must comply with the Water Regulations Advisory Scheme (WRAS) guidelines and Building Regulations, and so if any plumbing in your house is not completed in accordance with these legal requirements, they will be deemed illegal and potentially unsafe. 

Attempting simpler DIY tasks, like replacing taps for a new design, or installing some appliances, are safer for homeowners. However, it’s still advisable to contact a professional regardless, because what might appear to be a small, easily-solvable problem can quickly turn into a bigger issue if approached in the wrong way. 

The best way to ensure that your plumbing is compatible with the legal regulations, is to become qualified yourself! Gaining the necessary qualifications is not as time-consuming as it seems. The money you will save maintaining your own home, and even what you will make completing work for others, will make becoming a qualified plumber a worthwhile investment.

 

Can I do my own plumbing?

 

Completing plumbing work yourself is sometimes more trouble than it’s worth, and potentially can make small pre-existing problems even worse if they are done incorrectly. Simple DIY tasks, like changing showerheads, replacing taps, and installing some appliances, might be manageable to those with a basic knowhow. But anything more advanced than this takes training, qualifications, practice, and most importantly, awareness of regulations and laws.

All major plumbing work must abide by the Water Regulations Advisory Scheme (WRAS) guidelines and Building Regulations. Any plumbing work in your house which does not abide by these guidelines can be deemed unsafe and even illegal. 

While it’s good to have some practical skills, plumbing work is usually always best done by a professional. But why not cut out the middleman and become a qualified plumber yourself? 

Thinking of becoming a plumber? Here's a preview of what an average working day might look like once you're qualified...

Plumber doing a job

Plumbers tend to rise early in the morning, often completing the first job of the day before the nation's office workers have even switched on their computers. But while those office workers will be chained to their desks for the next eight hours, a professional plumber gets to spend the day travelling around, tackling a variety of tasks in all sorts of different workplaces.

 

What jobs do plumbers do?

The jobs that make up a plumber's average working day depend (to an extent) on whether that plumber is self employed or employed by someone else.

 

Self-employed plumbers

If you've decided to set up your own business and be your own boss, you're free to pick and choose what jobs you take on. In all likelihood, domestic plumbing repairs and installations will form the majority of the work you do.

Common jobs include:

  • Stopping leaks and drips
  • Unclogging drains
  • Improving water pressure
  • Installing new pipework
  • Fitting bathrooms
  • Repairing boilers*

*Note that plumbers must be Gas Safe registered in order to work on gas boilers.

 

Plumbers employed by somebody else

If you are employed by a commercial plumbing company, your typical working day will probably look a little different from that of a self-employed domestic plumber.

Yes, there will still be plenty of leaks to fix and drains to unblock, but you may also find yourself...

  • Installing plumbing systems in new buildings
  • Maintaining large-scale water supply / waste removal systems
  • Carrying out work on public water mains

If you're not keen on the idea of spending lots of time in the van, zipping from one job to the next, then you might prefer a 'static' job that allows you to do all your work in one place. Many large businesses employ resident plumbers to carry out regular inspections and maintenance on the company's premises.

 

What hours do plumbers work?

Some plumbers work a standard nine-to-five, Monday-to-Friday week like everyone else. But there's a lot of extra money to be made if you're happy to work evenings and weekends. If your average customer is at work during the day, they'll probably want a plumber who is willing to pop by later on, when they're at home...or maybe on Saturday, when they've got the day off. And of course, some plumbing emergencies can't wait until the next weekday!

Self-employed plumbers have the freedom and the flexibility to choose their own timetable and work as many (or as few) hours as they wish. Plumbers in traditional employment usually - though not always - operate on a more rigid schedule. Both career paths have their benefits; once you've completed your training and got some professional plumbing qualifications under your belt, it will be up to you to decide which lifestyle suits you best.

Browse Our Plumbing Courses >

Further reading:

2020 was a year of unprecedented ups and downs. Life presented us with more challenges than ever, and people across the world had to adapt to many new obstacles. But one thing didn’t change: we still needed to call the plumber. 

A new survey conducted by Rated People and Vanarama asked 1000 people questions relating to their reliance on tradespeople over the past year, to find out the kind of impact that lockdowns and restrictions had on our tendency to call out a tradesperson. As it turns out, not a big impact at all.

On the contrary, the survey revealed that 64% of those questioned called on a tradesperson at some point in 2020. Of all the tradespeople that were called out to homes last year, plumbers were in highest demand, with 23% of all calls being made for plumbing-related issues. In second place were the electricians, with 11% of all calls made for them. 

 

"Lockdowns have not diminished peoples reliance on the service of tradespeople"

 

One glimpse of how much people spent on tradespeople in 2020 is enough to confirm the notion that tradespeople are still able to rake it in, despite the threat of lockdowns and restrictions. 20% of respondents to the survey said that they’d spent over £1000 on tradespeople in 2020. And to top that, 10% said that they’d spent over £5000! 

The highest proportion of costs reflected how most tradespeople thrived off a number of lower-paid odd jobs and quick fixes, as over 50% of people spent between £10-100 on domestic trade work. But keeping busy is the key factor to success as a tradespeople, and any opportunity to produce high-quality work, and to make a customer happy, is an opportunity to secure even more work. And this fact is particularly worth remembering: the survey also said that a whopping 70% of customers choose their tradespeople not according to how much they charge, but rely instead upon positive word of mouth.

Another important revelation that this survey has brought up, is that lockdowns did not diminish people’s reliance upon the services of tradespeople. In fact, it could be argued that they even increased people’s likelihood of calling out for a tradesperson, as 54% stated that more time spent in the house under lockdown meant that they noticed more issues that needed fixing. That’s right: lockdowns actually increased the chances of people getting the plumber in. 

 

"Working in the construction industry is a safe bet for guaranteed work, no matter what future pandemics throw at us. People will always need their boilers fixed, their homes powered, and their lives moving forward. Tradespeople play a massive role in making sure that this happens."

 

Not only that, but more time spent at home meant that people had the time to attempt fixing things themselves. Of course, untrained hands are going to make mistakes, and there’s a reason why becoming a qualified tradesperson takes training and commitment. 20% of respondents admitted that they were forced to call out a tradesperson to fix a DIY issue that they’d caused themselves. It just goes to show – we need tradespeople more than we think. 

The most uplifting statistic produced by this survey for those working in the construction industry, was that 68% of respondents felt comfortable having tradespeople enter their homes, even during lockdowns. It’s testimony to the fact that tradespeople undergo incredibly important work, and without them, people would be living in discomfort, or even in danger. Without power, energy, heating, particularly at a time in which our homes become our constant places of refuge, where would any of us be? 

This pandemic has shown us how truly indebted we are to our tradespeople, and how they continue to be in high demand. Working in the construction industry is a safe bet for guaranteed work, no matter what future pandemics throw at us. People will always need their boilers fixed, their homes powered, and their lives moving forward. Tradespeople play a massive role in making sure that this happens. 

Access Training can give you that certainty: a future of fulfilling work, security, and professional purpose.

 

Learn your trade. Get qualified. Make it happen.

 

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